CHARLOTTE. The annual hypefest known as the Super Bowl is now over. Today New England Patriots fans are reveling in their record-tying sixth Lombardy Trophy. And the weather cooperating for the big victory parade. Unfortunately, the rest of the NFL world has yet another long year to resent the success of Tom Brady and New England’s “Brady Bunch.”
In the course of winning the game, New England signal-caller Tom Brady set a couple of impressive individual records.
- Not only has Brady earned more of the gaudy diamond-studded championship rings than any other player in history.
- At the age of 41, he is also the oldest quarterback to win the Super Bowl title.
It stands to reason that Patriots haters are not happy that “Tom Terrific” has no intentions of retiring any time soon. So long as he can compete.
Besides Brady, who are the oldest major league athletes to compete in their respective sports?
But let’s keep some perspective. Tom Brady isn’t the only athlete in history to defy the onslaught of age. Beginning with Major League Baseball, we can immediately unearth many an “aging” controversy.
For example, Leroy “Satchel” Paige holds the honor, at age 59, of competing as a pitcher on the roster of the Cleveland Indians. Or so many claim. The debate comes not from the fact that Paige probably was the oldest active player in MLB history. What is debatable is his exact age at the time. Whether or not he was 59 remains hotly disputed. Nobody seems to know for sure.
Paige also became the oldest big league rookie in history, supposedly at the age of 42. But he had long been a star professional in the old Negro Leagues during an earlier era when MLB resisted integration.
Believe it or not, Paige does have some company in the not-yet-established Aging Professional Athletes’ Hall of Fame. Here are just a few of his compatriots.
- Jack Quinn of the Cincinnati Reds pitched until 1933 when he was 50.
- As for position players, at age 58, shortstop Charlie O’Leary finally retired in 1934 from the St. Louis Browns.
- Nat Hickey takes the old guy honors in the NBA, even though his longevity was largely a publicity stunt. As head coach of the Providence Steamrollers in 1947-48, Hickey activated himself and competed in two games just two days shy of his 46th birthday.
- As for players who actually played regularly, Kevin Willis retired from the Dallas Mavericks in 2007. He was 44 years, 224 days old.
The National Hockey League: Easy to pinpoint when confronting Father Time.
Tom Brady still has a few years to go to catch up to the NHL’s legendary Gordie Howe. Howe’s career spanned five different decades, and “Mr. Hockey” was one consistently one of the greatest players in the history of the game. Playing for the Hartford Whalers, Howe competed for the last time in 1980 at the age of 52 years and 11 days.
In golf, things get a bit muddled.
Professional golfers aren’t likely to relinquish their hold on “oldest” titles to Tom Brady anytime soon. Notably, the oldest player ever to compete in a PGA tournament is Jerry Barber. He failed to make the cut in the 1994 Buick Invitational. But then, Barber was 77-years, 10-months, and 9-days old at the time.
As for oldest players who are still professionally active today, Gary Player takes the honors. He’s still haunting the professional links at the ripe young age of 79. Unsurprisingly, Player has always been a fitness buff. He still does 1,000 sit-ups every day except when he is traveling. (Tom Brady: Take note.)
As for winners, not only did Sam Snead win 82 PGA events. He is also the oldest golfer to do so, taking the Greater Greensboro Open trophy home when he was 52 years, 10 months and 8 days young.
Many people believe Jack Nicklaus’ last Masters championship made him the oldest golfer to win a major title. But Julius Boros won the PGA Championship at the age of 48 in 1968.
Tennis stats, Geriatric Division
As with golf, tennis is probably the most popular individual sport for competitive professionals. Aside from the categories of racing, bowling, and billiards.
As far as Grand Slam tennis events go (the French, Australian and US Opens plus Wimbledon), Ken Rosewall etched his name into the history books in 1972 when he became the oldest male player to win a Grand Slam tournament. Rosewall was a couple of months older than 37 when he beat Malcolm Anderson in straight sets in the Australian Open.
Roger Federer is the oldest male Wimbledon champion at 35-years, 11-months. Czech star Jana Novotna won the female title in 1998 at 29-years, 275-days.
For some, their driving ambition never flags
We’re not sure if Tom Brady has any driving ambitions in his future after he hangs up his NFL cleats for good. Meanwhile, in the popular world of motor vehicle racing, 51-year old Harry Gant took the checkered flag at Talladega’s Winston 500 in 1991. He became the oldest NASCAR driver to reach Victory Lane.
At 47, Al Unser, Sr. won the 1987 edition of the Indy 500. becoming the oldest driver to win the Brickyard classic. But some 36-years earlier, 53-year old Luigi Fagioli of Italy had won the French Grand Prix.
Horsing around, kicking the ball down the road, and knockin’ em out
Just to keep our racing records straight, the oldest Kentucky Derby-winning jockey was Willie Shoemaker (54). He won the Run for the Roses aboard 18/1 shot Ferdinand in 1986.
Futbol in Europe is known as soccer in the US. But, since whatever you want to call it is arguably the most popular sport in the world, it would be remiss not to mention goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary of Egypt. At the age of 45, he holds the record as the oldest World Cup player in history.
Finally, let’s not forget champion grill salesman and professional boxer George Foreman. Foreman defeated unbeaten Michael Moorer in the 10th round of their bout in Las Vegas to become the oldest world heavyweight boxing champion in 1994.
Given the physical, mental and traveling demands on each of these athletes, we now leave to you to determine which of these modern day sports Methuselahs was best at beating the clock. Clearly, Tom Brady has a lot of competition out there among the growing ranks of seasoned citizen record-breaking champs.
— Headline image: Tom Brady in 2017. Jeffrey Beall, photographer.
(Image via Wikipedia entry on Brady, CC 4.0 international license)
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the ‘s`ld. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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